MotoGP

Espargaro had no vision in “nightmare” Indonesian MotoGP of “survival”

Heavy rain battered the Mandalika International Street Circuit and caused MotoGP’s first race in Indonesia to be delayed by well over an hour while conditions improved.

The race – which was shortened from 27 to 20 laps due to safety concerns over the track breaking up – was run in wet conditions, with Espargaro forced to make his way from 16th on the grid in a weekend in which “everything went wrong”.

An old tyre construction brought by Michelin to combat extreme heat following problems at the pre-season Mandalika test caused major rear grip issues for all Honda riders, with Marc Marquez ruled out of the race with a concussion after a violent highside in warm-up.

Commenting on his miserable race, Espargaro says he had no reference for where he was on track and struggled to judge distances to other riders because of a filthy visor.

“My visor got super dirty from the dust from the track and plus the rain, I couldn’t follow the line, I didn’t know where the kerbs were,” added Espargaro, who finished down in 12th.

“I was just following Pecco’s [Bagnaia’s] red [rain] light.

“As soon as Pecco went wide, I was riding completely alone in that group from eighth to 13th. In that moment, I hit one kerb in the last corner and I didn’t know I was already on the kerb and I almost crashed.

“So, it was a nightmare. I couldn’t see anything, it was a survival race because it was so difficult to understand where you were on the track because of the water.

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“Everything went wrong this weekend, we started not so bad, then we had this problem with the tyres, then in FP2 we had this brake problem and couldn’t got to Q2 directly, then in qualifying we were struggling even more with the tyres.

“Then starting so far back, I think in the first three, four laps I took so much dust from the others that the visor got super dirty and I was looking with half of my vision.

“I think I touched Pecco twice, but it was not intentional because overtaking I couldn’t know the distance because I had no vision.”

Espargaro admitted after qualifying that he wasn’t sure he’d even be able to finish the race, as the lack of rear grip was forcing Honda riders to over-stress the front tyre.

The Spaniard topped the Mandalika test in February on the standard 2022 tyres, but feels Honda even turning up to the test was “a waste of time and money” given how badly the change in tyre construction affected it during the grand prix weekend.

“I mean, whatever we do on the test it should be like the test because you create a big mess if you prepare the bike for something and then you arrive to the race and you do completely different things,” he fumed.

“We spent quite a lot of time here in the pre-season putting the bike in its place, and for us it was just a waste of time and money to come here because we arrived here and what we did in the test was not working during the weekend.”


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